Founder of Doncaster's first Sikh temple dies aged 86

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One of the founders of Doncaster’s first Sikh temple in the 1960s has died at the age of 86.

Gurcharan Singh Landa bought a house on Cemetery Road, Hyde Park, with his brothers, converting the building to the Guru Kalighdar Gurdwara Temple and helping run the services.

His funeral was held on Tuesday December 8 at the larger Sikh temple which he went on to help set up on Catherine Street in the town centre, after he died peacefully in his sleep on November 23. He was carried to Rose Hill Cemetery in a horsedrawn carriage for a funeral service, with the cortege led by a full sardar Sikh, carrying a kirpan, a traditional religious Sikh sword, followed by seven Rolls Royce funeral cars.

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Mr Landa came to the UK from India in the 1950’s after the 1947 partition of India, residing initially in Edinburgh, Middlesbrough and Leeds. But he settled in Doncaster in the 1960s.

Doncaster Sikh temple founder Gurcharan Singh Landa as a young manDoncaster Sikh temple founder Gurcharan Singh Landa as a young man
Doncaster Sikh temple founder Gurcharan Singh Landa as a young man

Originally settling in Balby, he worked at Harvesters at Carr Hill as a tractor technician while also working a second job as a door to door salesman, along with his brothers. As the only driver in his family he used to take his brothers to the areas where they would be selling items, before starting his own work. He also drove to many family engagements and weddings for nephews.

He later also worked at Peglers in Balby.

In recent years he had lived with his family in Cantley, in a home containing four generations of the family.Setting the temple up in the 60s, his brother read scriptures and he did the hymn service. His family described him as very talented at writing hymns through his knowledge of Sikhism. He was an Amritdhari (baptised Sikh).

When moving the Catherine Street temple, he recruited Doncaster’s first Sikh priest to be based there, Harbhajan Singh, who arrived from Leeds and now lives in Balby.

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Gurcharan Singh Landa's funeral at Rose Hill, Doncaster, PIcture: Harmony Asian Funeral DirectorsGurcharan Singh Landa's funeral at Rose Hill, Doncaster, PIcture: Harmony Asian Funeral Directors
Gurcharan Singh Landa's funeral at Rose Hill, Doncaster, PIcture: Harmony Asian Funeral Directors

Mr Landa also sang at important Sikh religious festivals, and was chairman of the Gurdwara (temple) on multiple occasions.

Away from his religion, he was also chairman of the multi-faith Indian Arts Group Society in Doncaster.

Married to Reej Kaur Landa, the couple had eight children, but he became a widower in 2014.

Relatives this week paid tribute to Mr Landa.

His son Gurmukh Singh Landa said: "When he and his family set up the sikh temple, the Sikh community was not as big but people came to Doncaster when they discovered there was a functioning community temple. He was a great Sikh pillar, well known and respected all over the UK and India.”

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Grandsons Baljit Singh Landa and Gurjagtaar Singh Landa said in a joint statement: “He was a selfless person that gave to charity and to the community. He took pride in his unique appearance that was admired by many. Standing at well over 6ft tall, strong and powerful with hands like shovels, he had a distinctive curly moustache. He had a beautiful heart and always fought for righteousness. He was very loved and honourable and will be sadly missed by his family and the Sikh community.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.